Month: April 2021

Seoul & Busan Sunday: Race-By-Race Preview (April 11)

Sunday’s racing is behind closed doors at Seoul (10 races from 10:45 to 18:00) and Busan (6 races from 12:05 to 17:00). Betting outlets on Jeju Island as well as in Daegu and Gwangju will be open but all others are closed. Here are the previews:

Gaon Champ probably won’t be winning, but he will be running in Seoul’s Sunday feature

Seoul Race 1: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

(4) RUNNING KING may start as favourite here. He took a bump early last start on February 28th before racing keenly behind the leaders to be still running on strongly at the line. The previous time out he led for a strong 2nd and will be in the finish here. (3) NEW HOPE was 3rd in that February 28th race, marking a significant uptick in form and she can maintain that momentum today. The main danger though is set to be (1) DAECHEON EOLJJANG. He has run some good times over this distance and drops back after a decent showing over the 1300M last time. He has a nice draw on the inside which Johan Victoire can use to put him right in the mix here. (11) RAON GARAM has shown decent speed in both her races so far. That suggests the draw won’t be too much of a problem and she can be a factor. (8) ILGYEOK PILSAL was well back behind New Hope and Running King last start but we will disregard that and look back to his 2nd place on debut. Consider him for the exotics.

Selections(1) Daecheon Eoljang (4) Running King (3) New Hope (11) Raon Garam
Next Best8, 9
Fast Start4, 6, 7, 12

Seoul Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

(12) K N LIGHT is the favourite and the pick here after his win at the distance back on January 15th. He stepped up to 1300M on his return and worked hard to be on the lead from the widest gate but just seemed to tire in the closing stages, ending up in 4th. Despite another wide draw, back at 1200M he is the one to beat. (1) MAD BLADE ran 2nd to K N Light in January before weakening late over 1400M on his return to action a month ago. Just as with the favourite, being back to 1200M is in his favour. (5) HAECHAN continues the pattern of those dropping back in trip and into contention. Although some time ago now, there was plenty of merit in his last crack at this distance and he should be competitive here. (9) STAR RUSH is yet to place but has shown ability. He was wide early last time before battling on well and could sneak some money today.

Selections(12) K N Light (5) Haechan (1) Mad Blade (9) Star Rush
Next Best3, 10
Fast Start2, 3, 5, 8

Seoul Race 3: Class 6 (1400M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

Fillies only here. (12) GOLDEN BADGE is the pick here after a good 2nd at this trip in a nice time four weeks ago. She’s been reasonably consistent across here seven starts to date and this looks to be the race she’s been waiting for to pick up a win. (6) ROAD ROSE can have a line drawn through her latest effort when wide from an unhelpful draw. Her previous class and distance form is good and she should be on pace today with claims to go close. (1) JILPUNG BAEKGWANG was very wide last start but still battled on for a midfield finish. Moon Se Young climbs aboard today and she can improve. (9) CHEONGDAM TANK and (10) HAPPY MONTH are others in the minor money frame.

Selections(12) Golden Badge (6) Road Rose (1) Jilpung Baekgwang (9) Cheongdam Tank
Next Best10, 13
Fast Start3, 6, 8, 11

Busan Race 1: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

(3) SPEED MATCH looks ready to win here. While his previous two goes around this trip weren’t ideal, he was a good 2nd back at 1000M last start, running on well and looks ready for another crack. He faces modest opposition here and can come out on top. (8) ADELE CROWN was exactly fast when 4th on debut a month ago but hinted at enough ability to suggest progression is on the cards and he can get close here. (2) SIMON TOP GUN has shown progress across four starts so far and is another who should be aiming to get in the places for the first time today. (11) JANGSAN MANGCHI has failed to build on an encouraging debut but still has the fastest time among any of these who have tackled the distance before.

Selections(3) Speed Match (11) Jangsan Mangchi (8) Adele Crown (2) Simon Top Gun
Next Best4, 7
Fast Start1, 3, 4, 9

Seoul Race 4: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 28 Million

Fillies (and two mares) here. (4) RAON PINK was a class 6 winner on debut and has followed up with two solid performances at this class, running on from midfield both times. She can settle handy here and run on strong. (7) DAUL QUEEN is the one set to challenge her for favourite status. She too was winner on debut and was a fair 2nd on her first try at this class. She never really looked like winning that day but should be in the finish today. (11) CHEONGDAM WICKED continues to enter the calculations based on the sub-one-minute five-furlongs she achieved back last November. She’s not pulled up trees since but hasn’t been too far away. (10) CAREER HIGH is worth some thought. She didn’t settle especially well last time out but the run had merit. (12) LUCKY SMILE is another in the placing frame.

Selections(4) Raon Pink (7) Daul Queen (10) Career High (11) Cheongdam Wicked
Next Best12, 13
Fast Start8, 9, 10, 11

Busan Race 2: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

(7) MENI GLORY has just come up short in both his starts to date, finishing runner-up at 1000M and 1400M. He was a beaten favourite last start but is drawn nicely enough to get the early advantage here and will be a short-price to make it third time lucky. This isn’t an easy race though. (13) AFLEET TAPIT improved last time out at start number two and while it was a slow race, he looks set to be competitive. (14) WONDER RUNNER has been consistent across four outings so far. The wide draw shouldn’t be an issue and he surely finds the places again. (6) STAR OF KING has been knocking on the door of the minor money in recent outings and could sneak a prize here. There is one solitary debut-maker but it is a notable one. (2) WILD INDIE is out of Wild Dixie Gal, dam of multiple Korean Stakes winners Beolmaui Kkum and Kkakjaengi and who also produced Dixie Again, winner of six from nine so far. By President’s Cup and Grand Prix winner Indie Band, Wild Indie trialed up nicely in March (after an unconvincing qualification a month earlier) and he will be backed.  

Selections(7) Meni Glory (14) Wonder Runner (2) Wild Indie (13) Afleet Tapit
Next Best6, 9
Fast Start1, 4, 7, 8
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Seoul & Busan Saturday: Race-By-Race Preview (April 10)

Current social-distancing levels have been maintained so betting outlets on Jeju Island and in the cities of Daegu and Gwangju can remain open this weekend. They will be betting on the behind-closed-doors meetings that will take place on both days at Seoul and Busan. On Saturday there are 8 races at Seoul from 11:00 to 18:00 and 6 at Busan from 11:30 to 16:50. Here are the previews:

Empty stands again at Seoul.

Seoul Race 1: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

Fillies only to get things started. There is one previous winner in the field in the shape of (8) LOVE ARCH. Her win came on debut over 1000M in February and while it was in a slow time, she went from almost last to first in the final furlong. The additional trip should suit and a repeat isn’t impossible. (1) LEGEND STAR has run 3rd in both her starts so far at 1000M and at this distance. Drawn nicely on the inside she should be handy and run on strong here with solid claims. She will be favourite. (5) GABO SARANGHAE has been knocking at the door of the places. She’s finished in the top five on six of seven starts and should be aiming to place here. (9) ELITE POWER has by some margin the fastest time of any of these at the distance and while her latest two efforts have been indifferent, she should be given a chance here.

Selections(8) Love Arch (1) Legend Star (5) Gabo Saranghae (9) Elite Power
Next Best10, 3
Fast Start2, 3, 4, 12

Busan Race 1: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

There is one previous winner in the field. That’s (3) EAST BELLE who was successful at this trip two starts back. She weakened a little for 6th when stepped up to 1400M on her return in February but back down to her winning distance should be much closer today. (1) SECOND WIND returned from six months out to run 3rd over this distance at the end of February, swooping home late from off the pace. She should have come on for the run and can be a danger here. (2) CHOEGANG ILSE and (13) WIND HARPOON both look to have potential to improve and have at least placing claims. The one they all need to beat though is one of the six first-time starters. (5) SUCCESS MACHO is a three-year-old gelding by Macho Uno, who was imported in-utero. He looked extremely competent when holding his own in a fast trial with experienced horses and enters here as favourite. From a good draw with a top jockey on, he can lead gate to wire.

Selections(5) Success Macho (3) East Belle (1) Second Wind (2) Choegang Ilse
Next Best13, 14
Fast Start5, 7, 8, 13

Seoul Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

(13) DONGJIN CHOEGANG was a front-running winner over this distance on debut on March 7th, scoring by almost three-lengths. Despite today’s wide draw, she should be able to make her way to the front again and should have too much. (5) GEUMA MAJESTY ran 3rd in that same race, continuing an uptick in form that began with a 4th place in January. He can build on that momentum today from a better draw than last time and could run the favourite close. Jockey Ueda Masashi picked up a welcome winner last weekend and he has a decent shout here with (1) P.K. ROAD. The Upstart filly has been knocking on the door in each of her three outings to date and looks nicely in with placing claims here. (2) KOREA GIJEOK and (7) IMUGI are others with potential to improve.

Selections(13) Dongjin Choegang (5) Geuma Majesty (1) P.K. Road (2) Korea Gijeok
Next Best7, 9
Fast Start6, 8, 10, 13

Busan Race 2: Class 6 (1400M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

Just fillies (and one mare) here and it’s a tricky puzzle to solve. (2) DREAM DANCER and (9) HORAENGI look set to dispute favourite status as both enter with consistent recent form. Horaengi beat a couple of these on his way to 3rd place last time out and also has a 3rd at this distance to his name. Dream Dancer meanwhile steps up in trip after running on doggedly for 3rd over 1200M last time out. “Dogged” should be enough to see both close here. (6) FASHION BLADE was promising enough on debut when 5th behind Horaengi at 1200M. She made good ground from a long way back and will be expected to improve today. We’ll take a chance though on another one racing for just the second time, (13) WONDERFUL LADY. She was 5th over 1000M on debut but the step up in trip may suit and the jockey booking catches the eye.

Selections(13) Wonderful Lady (9) Horaengi (2) Dream Dancer (6) Fashion Blade
Next Best14, 11
Fast Start2, 3, 9, 13

Seoul Race 3: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

(1) NAMSAN SIDAE looks set to be a warm favourite here. The Cowboy Cal colt is out of a Korean Oaks winner and has a 3rd and a 2nd from his two starts so far, running on strong on both occasions. The slight step up in trip should suit and he is the one to beat here. Emerging from the opposite end of the fate will be (13) EOSEOWA. He comes in off back to back 3rd place finishes, the latter of which was at this distance and if Ham Wa-sik can find a handy position, he can be a threat again. (10) JEONGMUN POKJU was a somewhat unexpected winner at 1400M on March 7th. He needs to be given more respect today and while a repeat is unlikely, he looks a placing line. (4) TEUKGEUP YEOWANG and (12) SINDAERO are others who can be competitive.

Selections(1) Namsan Sidae (13) Eoseowa (10) Jeongmun Pokju (4) Teukgeup Yeowang
Next Best12, 7
Fast Start7, 8, 10, 13

Busan Race 3: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

Fillies and a couple of mares only here. (1) MINYEOBONG has only once finished out of the top five and looks ready to score again here. She got her solitary win three starts back over this distance and followed up with a 2nd and a 3rd in solid, if unspectacular times. From the inside gate, she is likely to be sitting just behind the leaders and should prove too strong at the business end of the race. (14) TOP OF THE GIRL produced an uptick in form to run 2nd in a similar class and distance race in March 6th. She warrants respect here although the likes of (2) ACEUI GIPPEUM and (13) TOP LUCKY, who finished behind her that day, both look capable of overturning that form. (5) ANGEL WIND, who has been beaten by Minyeobong in both her two most recent starts, is another with placing chances.

Selections(1) Minyeobong (13) Top Lucky (5) Angel Wind (2) Aceui Gippeum
Next Best14, 6
Fast Start5, 7, 11, 12

Seoul Race 4: Class 5 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 28 Million

The first division of this class 5 handicap sees (1) BLACK SILVER as a likely warm favourite. Her one win so far came at this distance in a fast time and she has a close at hand 3rd and 2nd in two starts since. From the inside gate, she is likely to be on pace from the start and should win. (6) GREAT KHAN and (7) GRAND CASTLE come in with almost identical form to one another. Both are also likely to be competing for the early speed and should be involved in the finish. (2) AROMA dropped off a cliff in the closing stages over 1300M last start but should be better back in trip today. (3) M J BEST has been a touch inconsistent across his three starts so far but has a bit of speed about him and looks a placing line here.

Selections(1) Black Silver (7) Grand Castle (6) Great Khan (2) Aroma
Next Best3, 9
Fast Start1, 2, 5, 6

Busan Race 4: Class 5 (1600M) Handicap / KRW 28 Million

(9) PINEUI KKUM is set to be hot favourite for this one. He was a bit of a late developer, not getting his maiden win until start number ten but he has been in fine form since. He comes in having recorded the fastest time of any of these over a mile when 3rd with a couple of his rivals here behind him, on March 13th. He likes to come from off the pace and should be too strong today. (8) GEUMA GOOD POINT got his maiden win at this distance last start. He is accordingly up in class today but on the strength of that showing should be competitive here. (10) SKY WIN was on pace at class and distance last time out and while he only managed 4th, looks set to be on pace again and has placing claims. (1) MAGIC HORSE and (4) TRIPLE MAGIC are other sin the hunt for some minor money.

Selections(9) Pineui Kkum (8) Geuma Good Point (10) Sky Win (1) Magic Horse
Next Best4, 6
Fast Start4, 7, 8, 10
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Jeju Friday Selections (April 9)

With Korea gradually losing control of the Covid situation, as case numbers rise and the glacial vaccination roll-out doesn’t, it is possible that racing will face more restrictions as soon as next week. Fingers crossed there won’t be and in any case, this weekend is set to be unaffected with betting still able to take place on Jeju Island and, at the time of writing at least, in Daegu and Gwangju. There will be pony racing on Friday while Seoul and Busan will both hold thoroughbred cards behind closed doors on Saturday and Sunday.

Here are the selections for the Friday pony racing card on Jeju (where only 5 Covid cases were reported int he last 24 hours):

Race 1: 5, 1, 9, 6

Race 2: 3, 4, 1, 8

Race 3: 2, 1, 5, 7

Race 4: 8, 9, 6, 5

Race 5: 9, 10, 5, 6

Race 6: 6, 10, 7, 8

Race 7: 4, 7, 3, 10

Race 8: 6, 11, 4, 1

Race 9: 8, 5, 1, 3

Race 10: 1, 5, 12, 6

Race 11: 8, 5, 3, 1

Race 12: 4, 8, 1, 9

In other news, Dolkong trialed up at Seoul last weekend for the second time since returning from injury. Under Antonio Da Silva he cruised around for an unhurried 4th place in his heat:

Blue Chipper Back On Top At Busan

Blue Chipper returned to the winner’s circle at long last at Busan Racecourse on Sunday afternoon as Korea’s 2019 Breeders’ Cup hero registered an effortless class 1 win over seven-furlongs.

With the Covid-induced financial crisis still biting, Sunday’s Busan feature was contested for a 1st prize of just KRW 24 Million (US$21,400). Nevertheless, in addition to Blue Chipper the race also attracted the likes of Ssonsal, the up-and-coming sprinter who came in off the back of four consecutive wins, as well as multiple winner King Of Glory and Dubai World Cup Carnival alumnus Today among a full field of fourteen.

None stood a chance as under jockey Djordje Perovic and coming out of gate five, Blue Chipper quickly assumed command of the race, before motoring away from the field in the home straight. Ssonsal, who had to overcome the widest draw, got closest, finishing three-lengths in arrears.

It’s been a long way back for Blue Chipper, who last tasted victory in the Korea Sprint (KOR G1) at Seoul Racecourse in September of 2019. Knowing that he held a Breeders’ Cup nomination, connections then opted to take a chance on him in the Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup First Mile at Santa Anita where, under an enterprising Flavien Prat ride, Blue Chipper finished 3rd behind Spun To Run and Omaha Beach.

Blue Chipper was then pointed at the Dubai World Cup Carnival and a tilt at the Goldolphin Mile. Disaster struck, however, when on arrival he was found to have travel sickness, the complications of which ruled him out of competing at Meydan.  By the time he was passed fit to fly, he returned to a Korea where racing, with no legal remote betting, was amid the still ongoing Covid crisis.

Having returned to training in December – and moved to trainer Min Jang-ki’s stable – Blue Chipper was given a low-key return to racing in February in a race which had no legal betting markets either at home or overseas. Going over a mile he showed at the front early but visibly tired in the final furlong ultimately ending up in 5th. He came out of that race in good order though and the improvement was there for all to see on Sunday.  

Where to next is the million-dollar (hopefully not the 24 Million Won) question for Blue Chipper. Now six-years-old, the Tiznow gelding seems unlikely to travel again given the risks involved and with no confirmed Stakes schedule for Korea as the pandemic continues to squeeze prizemoney, it may be some time before he even gest to face the likes of Seoul-based rising-star Eoma Eoma in Korea.

Other News

Jockey Kim Hye-sun rode her first winner back since returning from maternity leave just a week ago. The thirty-two-year-old, who is married to fellow jockey Park Jae-I, partnered Haeundae Bada to victory in race 1 at Busan on Sunday.  It was career victory number 284 for Kim, who is the most successful female thoroughbred jockey in Korean history. She rode Jejui Haneul to victory in the Korean Oaks in 2017.

In the three-year-old ranks, Winner’s Man returned to winning ways at Busan on Saturday. The Musket Man colt was beaten by the very good Golden Winner on his first try around the Korean Derby distance of 1800M last month and while he suffered another scare this time around, he had enough about him to hold off long-shot Man Of Top by a head at class 3 level for his first success around two turns. Winner’s Man now has a record of five wins and two runner-up finishes from seven starts.

Sunday Seoul & Busan: Race-By-Race Preview (April 4)

Blue Chipper was 5th on his return to racing after more than a year out. The 2019 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile 3rd place-getter is in action again at Busan on Sunday tackling 1400M in the feature race on the south coast. There are 6 races at Busan from 12:05 to 17:00 and 10 at Seoul from 10:45 to 18:00. Both meetings will be held behind closed doors. Here are the previews:

Blue Chipper goes at Busan on Sunday (Pic: KRA)

Seoul Race 1: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

(9) MORNING HILL was an impressive winner first up on February 28th making all in a fast time. He stretches out to 1200M today but if he has come on at all from that performance, he will take some beating here. The main danger is set to be a first-time starter. (4) YES I CAN trialed well, running on strong for 2nd place in his heat in a competitive time. The 1200M should suit and he can go well. (11) BORAQUEEN has fair form over her three outings to date. She led last time before battling on for 5th and is likely to improve off that run. (10) MODERN GOLD drifted well back in the field on his first start but got himself together to come home quite well and could sneak into a place. (2) YEONGWANUI HAENGJIN hasn’t pulled up many trees in two starts so far but previously showed some speed in a trial and the engagement of a top jockey today suggests improvement is expected.

Selections(9) Morning Hill (4) Yes I Can (11) Boraqueen (10) Modern Gold
Next Best2, 1
Fast Start1, 2, 9, 11

Seoul Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

There’s not a whole lot of exposed form here so (7) TEUKGWON might be the one to go for. He’s only raced twice and was a good 4th on debut before being on pace on his first attempt at 1200M back in January and battling on for 5th. He’s had a couple of months off since and should be right in the thick of things today. (3) SINUI ADEUL was in a handy position on his latest start before being hampered and losing ground. Disregard that and instead go on his two 4th places prior to that and he comes into contention. Also in contention is (4) THUNDER K. He has hinted at some ability and races for the first time since November having trialed well. The apprentice claim and the good draw put him in the calculations. (8) ROSEDAY MARINE is also in the hunt as is solitary debut-maker (9) BEOWULF.

Selections(7) Teukgwon (3) Sinui Adeul (4) Thunder K (8) Roseday Marine
Next Best9, 6
Fast Start3, 4, 6, 8

Seoul Race 3: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

Fillies only here and there are two previous winners among them. (9) YULONG STAR was a good winner two starts back at 1200M before running a good 4th last start when worked hard to get on the pace before battling on gamely. An apprentice claim takes 3kg off his back and puts him right in the mix. (8) JOYFUL K came home 5th in the same race having been quite wide before making good ground late. She won at 1200M last November and is at least worthy of a place line today. The one they both need to beat is (2) SARYEONI QUEEN. She recorded a 3rd and a 2nd in two starts last summer and while she hasn’t raced since August, she trialed adequately enough in February and has every chance first-up from a great draw to lead. (3) MISS ELITE and (7) NONGBON RAK are others in at least the placing frame.

Selections(2) Saryeoni Queen (9) Yulong Star (8) Joyful K (3) Miss Elite
Next Best7
Fast Start2, 7, 8, 9

Busan Race 1: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

Fillies get the Busan card underway and there’s going to be a warm favourite. (3) FLAT BABE came close to making all on debut over 1400M back in January, just getting overhauled in the closing stages by Looking Cat. Back in trip today but well drawn and with Perovic remaining aboard, she looks hard to beat. Draw a line through the latest effort of (4) HAEUNDAE BADA. She’s been back to trial since and her previous efforts suggest she should be aiming to place here. Similarly, (6) CHONGMA HWANGHU and (7) ENOUGH both hinted at ability on debut to the extent that we can overlook their respective latest showings and give them another chance here. There are five first-time starters and (1) MAGIC HILL and (11) AREUMDAUN GAMDONG both looked competent enough in trials.

Selections(3) Flat Babe (4) Haeundae Bada (1) Magic Hill (6) Cheonhma Hwanghu
Next Best7, 11
Fast Start1, 3, 6, 14

Seoul Race 4: Class 6 (1400M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

(1) ULTRA KING come sin off a good 3rd place at start number four when after showing good speed, he led a similar field for a time and fought on well. From the inside gate he should get an easier run today and is the one to beat. (3) BRAVO MAY came home in 4th place in that races continuing his record of always being there or thereabouts. That should be maintained today although once more he is likely to find one or two too quick. (4) CURRERECUS has the form to be in the finish. He beat three of these on his way to 2nd place in a good time over 1400M last start and with a good draw today, he is worth considering. (6) OFFICER COMMANDING was 5th but close to the winner last start in a good time at the distance. She also has a 2nd over 1300M and is firmly in today’s frame. (8) ROYAL YEONGGWANG the best of the rest.

Selections(1) Ultra King (4) Currerecus (3) Bravo May (6) Officer Commanding
Next Best8, 2
Fast Start1, 2, 8, 10

Busan Race 2: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

(11) WILD BLUE is the one to beat here. He has two 2nd place finishes and a 4th from his three outings so far, running on strong in each. He steps up slightly in trip which should be to his benefit and if Perovic can find a handy spot for him, he should be too strong. (14) GREAT GO remains winless but has been consistent across her eight outings to date. She led for much of the way around last start before running 2nd over 1400M and while the widest gate isn’t ideal, she can overcome it to go close. (5) PICTURE JASPER ran a good 3rd on debut, running on strong over 1000M and looks poised to build on that today. (9) FIRST WIND is the only prior winner in the field and while his latest two have been a touch disappointing, he shouldn’t be overlooked. (13) KING BID another in the hunt.

Selections(11) Wild Blue (5) Picture Jasper (14) Great Go (9) First Wind
Next Best13, 12
Fast Start3, 9, 11, 13

Seoul Race 5: Class 5 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 28 Million

(1) CATCH CHARM is a winner of two from two so far and is yet to see the rear of another horse at any time in her racing career. She is up in class here but she has won at this distance already and the inside barrier and Moon Se Young up again make her hard to beat. (2) STAR WARS is similarly up in class here, in his case following a win and two runner-up finishes. He comes down in the weights as well which should help his placing claims. Also with significant claims, at least on a place is (7) SEO E BEONJJEOK. He has won at this distance and was a close 2nd last start when handy but wide. She’s not been worse than 5th in her four outings and she should at least maintain that record. (4) GIVEN RUNNER and (9) SUN OF STORM are others with solid placing claims.

Selections(1) Catch Charm (2) Star Wars (7) Seo E Beonjjeok (9) Sun Of Storm
Next Best4, 13
Fast Start1, 6, 12, 14

Busan Race 3: Class 6 (1600M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

(9) DUMUSAN was a last start winner, breaking through at start number five. His form prior to that had only been fair but fair is enough to go on top in this modest contest. He’s generally slow away but has a nice turn of foot and so long as he doesn’t give them too much of a head start, should have too much. (11) WONDERFUL SECRET ran 4th behind Dumusan last start, sticking to task well. He’ll try to get to the front here and should still be around at the business end of the race. (7) CHEONGDAM DRIVE has a couple of 3rd place finishes to his name and that’s enough to put him in the placing frame again today with the likes of (5) DIVINE QUEEN and (6) BABEL STAR also capable of picking up a minor cheque.

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Seoul & Busan Saturday: Race-By-Race Preview (April 3)

Although “level 2” restrictions have been tightened to prevent on-course or OCB attendance in Busan as well as the Greater Seoul area, racing presses on. Both thoroughbred tracks will race behind closed doors on both Saturday and Sunday. Saturday’s racing sees 8 races at Seoul from 11:00 to 18:00 and 6 at Busan from 11:30 to 16:50. Here are the previews:

The cherry blossoms are out at a lonely Seoul Racecourse

Seoul Race 1: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

Fillies (and one mare) to begin with and there are two last start winners among them. (9) PRINCESS SOCKS ran 4th on debut before breaking through at start number two, making all over thus distance in a fair time. It took (5) LEROY BLANC four starts to break through, something she finally achieved in January, similarly leading all the way over 1400M. She looks nicely in again. The one they both need to beat is debut-maker (6) BURUI YEOWANG is a half-sister to talented pair Raymond and Choegang Team and blitzed a trial at the beginning of March. She’s beautifully drawn to be on speed and has every chance first-up. (3) VICTORY SAM was a solid 4th on debut over 1000M at the end of February and should have come on for the run. (2) GLORY KHAN is another in the hunt and should make ground late on, especially if the favourites, who are all likely to be on-pace, over-race.

Selections(6) Burui Yeowang (9) Princess Socks (5) Leroy Blanc (3) Victory Sam
Next Best2, 12
Fast Start3, 5, 6, 9, 12

Busan Race 1: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

(2) AMAZING FOOT is the first foal out of Sun Lordly, a very solid racehorse in Korea who won three of her first five races. This Hansen colt ran 3rd on debut over 1000M in February and should appreciate the extra furlong today. He has strong claims. (3) GOSUUI POWER improved at start two at the end of Janaury, running on well for 3rd behind Raon The Power. He too looks ready to try this distance again and can go close. (9) SEOBU QUEEN, half-sister and stablemate to the excellent Seobu Cat has two 3rd places among three outings to date. Her previous try at this distance didn’t go well but she should be better this time around. (1) WONDER BLADE’s solitary start was fifteen months ago. He’s been through a number of trials since, most recently a fast one two weeks ago and comes straight into contention today. There is one debut-maker. (14) POKPUNG JILJU looked sharp in two trials and while the draw is unfortunate, he should be competitive here.

Selections(2) Amazing Foot (9) Seobu Queen (3) Gosuui Power (14) Pokpung Jilju
Next Best1, 12
Fast Start2, 3, 6, 12

Seoul Race 2: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

A couple of standouts here. (2) RAON CHAMPSELY comes in off a good 2nd place when she ran on strong over 1200M. She gets an extra half-furlong to play with today and it may well suit the Musket Man filly. She’s likely to be vying for favourite status along with (7) GRAY CAT. After a bad start he was scarcely involved over 1400M last start but back in trip today and with a better start, he can be a big danger. (1) BIROE KING has the fastest time among those who have previously tackled today’s distance/ He comes in having beaten a couple of these last time out and should be in the mix again today. (6) MORNING FLASH will come from off the pace and should appreciate the slight step up in trip today while (12) SAMJEONG TAPAS is inconsistent but not without a placing chance in this company.

Selections(2) Raon Champsely (7) Gray Cat (1) Biroe King (6) Morning Flash
Next Best12, 5
Fast Start1, 7, 9, 12

Busan Race 2: Class 6 (1400M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

(1) THE FIRST FACTOR has been knocking on the door across three starts so far and most recently came home 3rd behind Baby Line and Ace Day in what was the fastest race ever recorded over this distance at class 6 at Busan. Of course, that was helped by the track condition but The First Factor’s time was nearly three seconds faster than anything else here has achieved at this distance and she could well come out on top today. (13) ADELE SMART has already come out on top, winning on debut on February 27th. That was over 1000M but he got stronger as the race went on and has every chance of following up here. (8) OLD CHEONHA came home 4th in the same race, also on debut and is another who should appreciate the additional trip. (5) TRIPLE STORM was a significantly improved 2nd last start and can maintain that momentum today while (7) BURNING PARTY is another in the hunt.

Selections(1) The First Factor (13) Adele Smart (8) Old Cheonha (5) Triple Storm
Next Best7, 4
Fast Start1, 3, 7, 13

Seoul Race 3: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

A rare small field with just the nine three-year-old maidens going to post here. (9) BLACK ROOKIE is the pick and is likely to be a warm favourite. She has the fastest time at the distance which she recorded on a relatively slow track when 2nd two starts back. She was satisfactory, if one-paced, when 5th at 1400M last start and the drop back should suit. She has a strong finish and the wide draw shouldn’t be an issue. (7) GO GO STAR has finished between 3rd and 5th in all of her five starts to date. She was a good 3rd at this distance last start and that should be a minimum requirement today. (6) GUK HYANG ran an improved 2nd at 1000M on her third outing back in February and can build on that today. (3) MASEONG CHEONHA and (8) LUCKY WORLD will need lines drawn through their respective latest offerings but are other sin the placing frame.

Selections(9) Black Rookie (6) Guk Hyang (7) Go Go Star (8) Lucky World
Next Best3
Fast Start3, 6, 7, 8

Busan Race 3: Class 5 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 28 Million

(2) TAKE INDY KING drops back in trip after two goes around 1400M. He ran 2nd on his previous try at this distance having led for much of the way and draws nicely here. He has every chance. (10) CROWN FUNKY beat three of these on his way to a solid class and distance 2nd place on February 20th. She has mixed her form but looks nicely in here to go well again with the same apprentice jockey taking plenty of weight off again. The draw this time though favours (1) YEONGGWANGUI START. He ran 4th in that race and from the inside could well get on the pace today. If he does, then he has solid claims. (4) WONDERFUL KING comes in off a strong 3rd place last start beating a couple of these in the process and can be competitive again while (11) EAGLE STAR may have lost his way a little in his latest two but has plenty of ability and could come back into form here.

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Jeju Friday Selections: April 2

While hardly anyone is either going to see it, let alone be allowed to bet on it, it is at least the only meeting of the weekend which will have punters in attendance, so here are some darts tossed in the direction of the Jeju Pony Racing on Friday when there are 12 races from 13:00 to 18:00.

Race 1: 6, 8, 10, 2

Race 2: 9, 5, 4, 6

Race 3: 4, 1, 6, 5

Race 4: 8, 3, 9, 1

Race 5: 3, 8, 4, 9

Race 6: 8, 4, 1, 6

Race 7: 9, 4, 7, 10

Race 8: 3, 6, 7, 1

Race 9: 7, 5, 3, 9

Race 10: 8, 1, 7, 5

Race 11: 12, 2, 1, 3

Race 12: 5, 7, 5, 6

Spectators Shut-Out of Busan Again, Daejeon OCB Permanently Closed – Walker Hill To Follow

Busan Racecourse will not be allowed to admit customers from this weekend as the city has raised its social distancing level to 2 from this Friday. Under level 2, sports venues are allowed to admit 10% of their seated capacity, however, just as in Seoul which has been at this level since the start of the year, the racecourse and the two off-course betting centres in the city, must close their doors completely. No coronavirus outbreaks had been linked to the track or OCBs since they reopened at 20% of seated capacity in February. Customers may attend the Jeju pony races on Friday but the Seoul and Busan meetings on Saturday and Sunday at both tracks will be behind closed doors.

The blow is compounded by the fact Daejeon Off-Track-Betting Centre closed for the final time last Sunday after twenty-one years of operation. The long planned closure had first been announced in 2017 after political pressure. With all branches in the Greater Seoul area currently closed due to Covid-19 restrictions, it leaves only Jeju Racecourse along with the branches in Daegu, Cheonan and Gwangju open for betting.

Local media reported that in addition to the closure Daejeon authorities had requested that the KRA, which owns the twelve-storey building in the city’s Seo-gu district, donate it to the City in order to make amends for the supposed damage that the presence of an off-track betting centre had caused its people over the years. According to media reports, local politicians and residents associations say that the educational and residential environment in the district had deteriorated because of legal betting taking place.

The KRA declined the request, citing the financial crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, and the building will now be put up for sale through the state-run Korea Asset Management Corporation. Prior to 2020, the site generated an estimated KRW 20 Billion in local taxes for the city of Daejeon annually.

One solution to this problem, which is repeating itself up and down the country wherever there is an off-track centre, would be the legalization of online betting. Representative Yoon Jae-gap, a Democratic Party National Assembly member initiated a bill last year to legalize the sale of betting tickets online. In publishing figures last week showing that the KRA made a KRW 438.1 Billion loss in 2020, Rep. Yoon said that he believed the “countdown to the collapse of the industry has begun” with emergency funds set to be exhausted by the middle of the year.

The Daily Hankook Newspaper reported an official at the Ministry of Agriculture, under whose jurisdiction the KRA and racing falls, as saying that the Ministry recognized that in the long term the legalization of online betting may be necessary but that it would be difficult in the absence of a national social consensus and that any legislation shouldn’t be rushed. The online sale of lottery tickets has been legal since 2018.

In semi-related news the saga of foreign punting groups apparently winning too much in the local Korean pools has come up again. The Chosun Ilbo reports that on March 30th, the Board of Audit and Inspection found that in 2019, the win rate of foreign customers was significantly higher than that of Korean nationals. The Board noted that 89% of betting tickets purchased by foreigners were issued in the final five minutes of betting compared to 74% of purchases by Korean customers.

This was, the report says, made possible by being able to get bets on in large volumes as late as possible (the maximum per ticket bet is 100,000 – US$88 – and it is difficult for Korean punters to get on more than that per race). Accordingly, foreign punters’ dividend rate on 2019 was 121% of their investment compared with 72% for Koreans.

The “foreigner only” off-track-betting location at Walker Hill in Seoul, where the majority of the betting analysed by the Board of Audit and Inspection took place, has been closed since the start of the pandemic and will not reopen with the lease expiring within the next month and notice having been given.